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Square tomatoes not on the square

[Your recent] page one article, “Vegging out in Malibu” [May 6] — your glowing story about 2-year-old company “Ceres, Ink” renting space at HRL Labs in Malibu and creating genetically engineered tomatoes and other food products — was surprisingly unbalanced for The Malibu Times.

I love this community for many reasons: the beauty of nature, the level of education of its people, our desire to be informed, our love of the environment and commitment to family and community. We in Malibu who consider ourselves “environmentalists” must be aware of the debate over the emerging “Biotech Century.” Its scientists wish to create drought resistant, pesticide resistant, giant vegetables. We must ask all the right questions and evaluate the long-term consequences.

In his new book, “Biotech Century,” Jeremy Rifkin warns us that “Genetic Pollution” is likely to pose at least as significant a threat to the biosphere in the coming century as petrochemicals have in the current century.

Molecular biologists and industry spokespersons (for Monsanto and other giant transnational companies) argue that genetic engineering will have no harmful environmental consequences. The skepticism occurs because there is not a single instance in human history in which the introduction of a major technological innovation has had only benign consequences for the natural world.

Perhaps our local “Ceres” will create the perfect tomato and even improve upon God’s creation, all while employing many people. However, considering the high-risk consequences of our decisions over how we grow the food that feeds our species, and considering that this new era of agricultural biotechnology has few guidelines and virtually no idea of the potential outcomes to our children and our planet, we at least should raise the right questions and create a more informed discussion.

Bonnie Reiss,

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founder of ECO and Malibu citizen

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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